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Rogen and Franco team up in “Pineapple Express”

Szymon Ryzner | Monday, September 1, 2008

Reefer madness! Interested in a comedy-action-buddy-flick centered on Hollywood’s favorite illegal substance? Well, then it might be worth your while to take a ride on the “Pineapple Express.” Viewers are treated to another R-rated comedy from popular producer Judd Apatow and starring Seth Rogen (“Knocked Up”) and “Spider-Man” alum James Franco. 

Combining the appeal of previous Apatow works such as “The 40 Year Old Virgin” and “Superbad,” the new filmmaking fraternity has created an action flick with the most unlikely, passive-aggressive “pot” smokers available. There is little doubt that “Pineapple Express” is intended for those watching it to be high, but nevertheless the film manages to entertain with its many gags and “giggle weed” references. 

If anything, the marketing for this film was extremely well put-together. Even the trailer is worthy of mention, as it built up a significant buzz surrounding the film. The trailer was supported by M.I.A.’s memorable single “Paper Planes,” effectively turning the song into a popular mainstream hit. Another slick move by Rogen and Franco was the use of a large bag of fake “bammy” and the smoking of a fake “bomber” onstage at the MTV Music Awards. The gag made for a classic moment that had to have at least a few FCC censors sweating nervously at the thought.

“Pineapple Express” revolves around Dale Denton (Rogen), an “airhead” who works as a process server. Denton witnesses a murder and is forced to seek safety at the only place he can think of, the apartment of his cannabis-selling amigo, Saul Silver (Franco). Car chases, fistfights, gun slinging, and the selling of “naughty cigarettes” to high school students all ensue and surprisingly work together well. 

Not all the jokes are successful, but the characters are played convincingly and the material seems endless. A key encounter between Dale and his underage girlfriend’s parents is priceless, as are the reactions of Saul to the circumstances in which the duo find themselves.

Both the comedic and action aspects are given respectable onscreen time, and the array of characters only adds to the enjoyment. 

One standout is Danny McBride’s portrayal of Red, the middleman in the drug world and an intermediary between the dealer and the drug lord. It’s a role that has to be seen to be understood, but McBride truly makes a name for himself in this “stoner” epic. Seth Rogen plays the typical Seth Rogen character, the lovable hero with a good heart.

James Franco, however, blows you away with every puff of his fake “fatty.” Franco plays an especially convincing “tea head,” even after repeatedly playing a straight-laced millionaire’s son in the “Spider-Man” franchise. He plays the character as though he has lived Hollywood’s idea of the perpetual “toker;” in retrospect, perhaps he has. Craig Robinson (Darryl on TV’s “The Office”) also delivers as a hilarious henchman sent to kill the pair by the drug lord. The immaturity of the entire group of characters does wonders, truly forming a great ensemble.

“Pineapple Express” is an entertaining mix of humor and action. With its memorable characters and humorous action sequences, viewers are led to believe that perhaps a marijuana action film really can exist – if so, “Pineapple Express” is it. Although the film is a blend of multiple, seemingly incompatible genres, you can expect to see “Pineapple Express 2” as soon as the production cycle of these recently successful comedy titans allows it